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Keyless entry systems

We’re all familiar with keyless entry systems, whereby you can open all the doors to your car by pressing a button on your ignition key.

These systems have been around since the 1980s and allow the convenience of being able to unlock your car from a distance, as well as allowing several passengers entry to the car at the same time. A physical ignition key was still needed to start the car.

The way we are doing things is modernising – just think of how much contactless and card payment has overtaken cash! As part of this trend, many carmakers have been working on modernising their approach to new car keys.

Keyless ignition systems

Whilst keyless entry systems have been around for some time, keyless ignition systems are a more recent development.

It’s pretty interesting tech: the car will detect the fob automatically and unlock. Once you’re in the vehicle, it recognises the fob and you can start the ignition by pressing a button.

This means there’s no need to insert a physical car key – the fob can be kept in your pocket when accessing and starting the car.

Many models of car feature this system, from Range Rovers and BMWs through to more humble VW Golfs and Volvos.

Although this method of entering and starting your car is quite high-tech and convenient, it’s not without its disadvantages.

Keyless theft makes up a high percentage of vehicle theft, as sophisticated criminal gangs have been able to use specialist equipment to re-programme keys to gain access to and start cars.

Smartphone car keys

It’s a fact that people today are attached to smartphones like never before, so it’s not too surprising to see carmakers develop apps that might one day be your new car key.

Starting this year, Volvo is offering its customers an app to completely replace a physical car key with a digital version. Bluetooth proximity sensors detect the app, which allows the car to be unlocked and the engine to be started.

This system has been trialled with a view to increasing car sharing: as a piece of software, it can be shared with others who can also install it on their phones. The owner of the car has control over shared ‘keys’ and can set expiration dates or revoke the keys to stop them working. This means that you could give someone access to a car without needing to hand over any physical key – which would undoubtedly make car sharing or car rental that bit easier.

Mercedes are also starting to look at how mobile phones could work as car keys. An embedded electronic code in your phone’s SIM card allows you to gain access to your car by placing your phone against the door handle. Even if your phone’s out of battery, it’ll still work as the code is in the SIM, not the phone itself.

Could eye scanners be the new car key?

What about not having any physical devices at all – could that be the future of car keys? Could eye scanning or fingerprint recognition be the way forward?

Although biometric fingerprint scanners for cars are available aftermarket, it’s unlikely they’ll be the future of car keys. This is for the simple reason that if criminals are determined to get into a vehicle, they may simply take the owner – or the required digit – by force.

Johan Maresch, head of IT innovation at Volvo, suggested that in the future, ‘perhaps we’ll have an eye scanner that would identify you [the driver] and there wouldn’t be a mobile or any other physical device’.

For now, though, it looks like it’s a long way off before any drastic changes in the way we gain entry to and start our cars are widespread!

We use the most advanced equipment and software to offer repaired or replacement keys for the majority of vehicles. Contact us today to speak to our auto locksmiths!

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